Friday, April 12, 2024

Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine 2022

What Parts Of Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Medicare & You: Vaccines

Original Medicare Part A and Part B doesnt cover the shingles vaccine. However, there are other Medicare plans that may cover at least part of the costs. These include:

  • Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage is a plan you can buy through a private insurance company. It may offer additional benefits not covered by original Medicare, including some preventive services. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, which would cover the shingles vaccine.
  • Medicare Part D. This is the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare and typically covers commercially available vaccines. Medicare requires Part D plans to cover the shingles shot, but the amount it covers can be very different from plan to plan.

Making Sure Youre covered

There are a few steps you can take to make sure your shingles vaccine is covered if you have Medicare Advantage with drug coverage or Medicare Part D:

  • If your doctor cant bill your plan directly, ask your doctor to coordinate with an in-network pharmacy. The pharmacy might be able to give you the vaccine and bill your plan directly.
  • File your vaccine bill for reimbursement with your plan if you cant do either of the options above.

If you have to file for reimbursement, youll have to pay the full price of the shot when you get it. Your plan should reimburse you, but the amount covered will vary based on your plan and if the pharmacy was in your network.

Can You Get Shingles If You Had The Chickenpox Vaccine

It depends. Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is susceptible to shingles. When the chickenpox virus comes out of hiding and reactivates, it causes numbness, tingling, blisters, and sometimes flu-like symptoms. If you never had chickenpox because you were vaccinated, you run a very low risk of getting shingles.

Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

All Medicare prescription drug plans offer some level of coverage for the shingles vaccine. You will find this coverage under your Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.

The amount you pay will vary based on your policy details and your deductible amount. For some enrollees, the shingles vaccine could be free, but others may pay full price if a deductible must be met before the cost-sharing benefits begin.

The shingles vaccine is not covered by Original Medicare . However, Medicare Part B may cover a doctor’s visit to get a prescription for the shingles vaccine.

Most Medigap plans, also called Medicare supplement plans, don’t cover the shingles vaccine because they don’t include prescription drug coverage.

Medicare plan
Wellcare $28-$47

Typical costs based on available plans in Charlotte, N.C. , Boston , and Los Angeles .

Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area

Remember that coverage for the shingles vaccine is usually just one aspect of your prescription drug needs. And the best Medicare Part D plan for you is determined by its total performance, including how well its coverage matches your prescription needs.

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Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine As Free For All Seniors

Many people think that a vaccine that’s recommended by the CDC for those over age 50 would be fully covered by Original Medicare. However, there are a few reasons why you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for the two-dose regimen.

  • Medicare coverage levels: Some Medicare drug plans have better cost-sharing benefits than others, and how much you pay for the shingles vaccine depends on the plan you choose.
  • Pharmaceutical classification: Medicare classifies the Shingrix vaccine as a part of its pharmaceutical coverage, meaning it would fall under Medicare Part D coverage rather than Part A or Part B. In contrast, most private health insurance, either through an employer or through the marketplace, classifies the shingles vaccine as a part of its free preventative coverage.
  • Type of pharmaceutical: Shingrix is a Tier 3 drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, and there isn’t a generic alternative. This could mean that your out-of-pocket costs are higher than for other medications.

Fixing Medicare Vaccine Coverage Once And For All

Nonetheless, barriers to vaccine access remain for seniors due to the separate benefit part placement of vaccines in Part B and D. In seeming acknowledgment of the above problem, Congress acted rapidly to provide for coverage of COVID-19 vaccines without cost sharing under Part B when it passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March 2020, a full eight months before the first vaccine was authorized for emergency use.

As early as 2007 and as recent as 2021, the Medicare Payment and Access Commission recommended moving the coverage of vaccines from Part D to Part B. In the 2007 report, MedPAC foresaw the challenges stemming not only from beneficiary OOP costs under Part D, but also the challenges of physician out-of-network status under Part D. While pharmacists have long been permitted to roster bill vaccinations under Part B, easing the hurdle of split benefit part placement, physicians continue to face difficulty in offering Part D vaccines. Because they are out of network, this makes it difficult to ascertain coverage and cost sharing information. This may lead to patients paying the full cost of vaccines up front and seeking reimbursement under Part D later. This exacerbates the already burdensome financial requirements that result in lagging adult vaccine offerings in physician offices.

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How Long Does Shingrix Last

The Shingrix vaccine can remain effective for at least four years in most people and even longer in others. You must get the entire series to be protected against shingles, which includes two separate shots. Even if you have had the infection, getting vaccinated can still offer benefits because it may help reduce the risk of developing PHN.

Shingrix may not protect everyone, but it provides broader protection for older adults whose immune systems are declining with age or disease.

What Shingles Vaccines Are Available

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there are 2 vaccines licensed and recommended to prevent shingles in the U.S.: Shingrix and Zostavax.2 The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get 2 doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.3

Read Also: What To Expect With Shingles

You Can Get A Shingles Vaccine Two Ways:

At the pharmacy. Youll still need a doctors prescription, but once thats been transmitted, you can get the shot at a retail pharmacy.

Most major chains and some independent pharmacies can administer the vaccine. Just make sure to use a store in your drug plans network so that it can bill your plan directly and youll owe just the copayment.

At the doctors office. If youre vaccinated in a doctors office, check whether it can bill your drug plan directly or works with a pharmacy that can do so. If so, it will work as mentioned above, with you owing a copayment. If not, you may need to pay the full cost up front and then file a claim for reimbursement from your plan.

Remember that the doctors fee for administering the vaccine may exceed your plans allowable charge, in which you case youre on the hook for the difference. It pays to check beforehand.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Jan. 1, 2014. It has been updated with the latest information regarding Medicare coverage in 2020.

Medicare And The Shingles Vaccine: Are You Covered

Shingles Vaccine

The shingles vaccine is covered through Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage as part of your prescription drug benefits. In 2022, your actual costs for the vaccine depend on the specifics of your plan.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, all vaccines will be free under Medicare Advantage or Part D including shingles. No matter your plan, you’ll pay no deductible, copay or other costs for a shingles vaccine.

In 2022, you could pay less than $50 per shingles shot with a Medicare Part D plan from Aetna or Wellcare. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage, the full price for two doses of the Shingrix vaccine is $324, and several cost-saving options can help you get Shingrix for less.

Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area

Also Check: Can You Have Shingles Without A Rash Or Blisters

S For Getting Coverage For The Shingles Vaccine

If you currently only have Original Medicare, how can you get coverage for the shingles vaccine? First, you will need to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to get coverage for the shingles vaccine. You should thoroughly research the plans available in your area. Eligibility for Advantage plans is based partly on where you live, so not all plans are available in all areas. An independent insurance agent can also help you choose the best Medicare Advantage plan for your needs.

Once you find a plan that meets your needs, you should check the coverage details to make sure that the shingles vaccine is covered. More than likely, you will need to meet a deductible before the plan pays for treatment. If you have already met your deductible and paid for the vaccine out-of-pocket, then you might be eligible for reimbursement for some of the charges. If you have questions about Medicare coverage for the shingles vaccine, there are many resources available at Medicare.gov. You can also give them a call at 1-800-633-4227 or TTY at 1-877-486-2048.

What Vaccines Does Wellcare Pay For

All Medicare Advantage plans including Wellcare Medicare plans are required by law to cover all the same vaccines that are covered by Medicare Part B. This includes vaccinations for:

  • Flu Flu shots are typically covered once per year during flu season
  • Pneumococcal Coverage is for a one-time vaccine given in two doses, generally one year apart.
  • Hepatitis B Coverage is for a one-time vaccine given in two to four doses over one to six months for those at medium to high risk, including those with diabetes.
  • COVID-19 Coverage includes the two-dose vaccine from either Pfizer or Morderna and the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Medicare covers a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at least six months after completing the two-dose cycle of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or at least two months after the Johnon & Johnson vaccine.

Additional vaccines are covered if you have been exposed to a harmful virus or bacteria. For example, a tetanus shot would be covered if you stepped on a rusty nail, or a rabies shot would be covered if you were bitten by a stray dog.

If your Wellcare plan includes prescription drug benefits, you may have coverage for some additional vaccines. Some of the vaccines covered by the prescription drug portion of a Wellcare Medicare Advantage plan may include:

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Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine In 2022

The best way to prevent shingles is through a shingles vaccination however, Original Medicare will not cover this service. Luckily, Medicare Part D plans usually do.

FYI: If you plan to apply for Medicare, be sure to read our rundown of documents needed for Medicare.

Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccines

Most health insurance companies cover shingles vaccines, and so does Medicare. However, Original Medicare coverage wont cover the vaccines. You must be enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage in order to have prescription drug coverage that covers shingles vaccines. Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B , components of Original Medicare, wont cover shingles vaccines.

Other Medicare supplement plans, like Medigaps, dont cover shingles vaccines either.

You can enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan by itself, or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part A, B, and D coverage. Either of these options will usually cover the Shingrix vaccine.

Every Medicare Part D plan is different and copays or coinsurance may vary from plan to plan. Deductibles also may apply.

Different Medicare Part D plans classify medications and vaccinations into different tiers. What tier your plan puts shingles vaccinations into will determine your copay. The best way to determine the insurance plan thats best for you is to compare formularies to find the one that covers as many of your medications and vaccinations as possible or contact Medicare customer support.

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Why Does Medicare Not Cover The Shingles Shot

There are a few reasons why Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover the shingles vaccine. One reason is that the vaccine is not considered to be medically necessary. Medicare only covers preventive care services that are considered medically necessary. Instead, your shingles shot will be covered if you have Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs.

Another reason Medicare does not cover the vaccine is that it is not considered to be cost-effective. Medicare only covers preventive care services that are considered to be cost-effective. The shingles vaccine is not currently considered to be cost-effective by Medicare standards in some cases.

Vaccines Covered By Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D covers all commercially available vaccines needed to prevent illness. You can get Part D coverage through a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage.

Vaccines covered by Part D include the following:

  • Shingles vaccine: One-time vaccine given in two shots over two to six months
  • Tdap vaccine : One shot if youve never been vaccinated, and a booster every ten years
  • Other vaccines covered: Vaccines that are “reasonable and necessary” to prevent illness and are not covered by Part B

Part D may also cover vaccines you may need if you are traveling internationally. Talk with your doctor about your travel plans and ask what vaccines are recommended.

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What Happens When You Get The Vaccine

As mentioned above, there is one option for the shingles vaccine: Shingrix.

Shingrix, which contains no live virus, is a two-dose vaccine series given in the muscle of the upper arm. The second shot is given two to six months after the first. In clinical trials, it was effective in nearly 97% of adults in their 50s over 97% effective for people in their 60s and over 91% effective for those aged 70 and above. It remains at near 85% effectiveness in all four years following vaccination.18

Shingrix is recommended if youre age 50 or older and have no severe immune problems.19

Effectiveness does come with a cost: In studies, seven in 10 people experienced pain from the Shingrix vaccine, and nearly half have muscle pain or fatigue and some had headaches, shivering, fever and nausea.20 21The CDC suggests avoiding strenuous activities for two to three days after getting either Shingrix shot.

If have previously received Zostavax, you can consider getting Shingrix. The CDC says Shingrix was safe and immunogenic when given five years or later after Zostavax. The agency adds there is no data or theoretical concerns that Shingrix would be any less effective if given sooner. 21

Zostavax was discontinued in 2020 by Merck and is no longer available in the United States.

Where Can I Get Vaccines I Need

What You Should Know About Shingles Vaccines | Johns Hopkins Medicine

You can get most vaccines at a pharmacy, doctors office, clinic or community health center. Talk with your doctor about what vaccines you may need. Your doctor or Part D plan provider can also help you understand whether your cost will be affected by where you go to get the vaccines that your doctor recommends.

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What Are My Options For The Shingles Shot And How Does It Work

As of November, 2020, there is only one shingles vaccine available in the United States. This goes by the trade name Shingrix.

Shingrix was approved by the FDA in . It is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia after two doses of the vaccine.

An earlier vaccine, Zostavax, is no longer in use in the United States as of November 18, 2020. Zostavax first got FDA approval in 2006. It was about 51 percent effective at preventing shingles and 67 percent effective at preventing PHN.

Solving The Part D Oop Problem

When the MMA was passed, vaccine OOP costs were only a theoretical problem. Then, in 2005, the first pertussis-containing vaccine for adults was licensed, followed by the first shingles vaccine in 2006. A 2011 GAO report showed that relatively few Medicare beneficiaries received these vaccines, and cost sharing was cited as a barrier to access.

A 2018 Avalere Health analysis I led found that uptake of the shingles vaccine was 40% to 60% higher when a Part D plan offered $0 cost sharing. In 2016, 95% of Part D beneficiaries encountered vaccine cost sharing, with OOP costs averaging $85. Other studies have affirmed that cost sharing is a definite barrier to vaccine access, resulting in lower uptake.

Over the years, the CMS has encouraged Part D plan sponsors to offer a $0 or low cost-sharing formulary tier for vaccines, but the offering remained optional. Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act now makes this mandatory and removes a barrier to vaccine uptake.

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Medicare Part D Coverage

Original Medicare doesnt cover most prescription drugs, but you do have the option of purchasing a Part D plan. These plans are sold by private insurers and offer coverage for a range of prescription drugs.

While there is some variation in Part D plans since they are provided by different private companies, they typically must include coverage for Shingrix.

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